We are in week 12 of the season and with that, the playoff picture has started to sort itself out in the NFC.  While there are only six playoff spots up for grabs, I will rank the top eight teams in the conference and examine their strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Philadelphia Eagles:  The Eagles started slow against the Dallas Cowboys, but by the end of the night they won in blowout fashion. Carson Wentz continues to impress and the Eagles defense is legit.  It will take a great performance in all three phases of the game to beat the Eagles this season.
  2. New Orleans Saints- Drew Brees and the Saints continue to stay hot.  It seemed they had finally run into the wall, but Brees pulled them from the jaws of defeat and beat the Redskins in overtime.  They have a huge matchup this week against the 7-3 Rams.
  3. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikings defense stepped up big time against the potent offensive attack of the Rams.  The Rams went right down the field on the game’s first drive to score a touchdown and never scored again. Case Keenum didn’t take a sack all game and he made just enough plays to beat the Rams 24-7, moving the Vikings to 8-2 on the season.
  4. Los Angeles Rams- The Rams ran into a stiff test last week in Minnesota, losing to the Vikings 24-7.  The good news is that this game was tied 7-7 going into the fourth quarter.  If Cooper Kupp doesn’t fumble on the one-yard line or doesn’t drop a ball later in the game, the Rams could have easily come away with the win.
  5. Carolina Panther- Carolina comes off the bye week sitting at 7-3.  Before the bye week the Panthers were rolling, look for the Panthers to continue their dominance against the Jets this weekend.
  6. Seattle Seahawks- The Seahawks finally ran out of luck.  They went for a fake field goal to end the first half against the Falcons and ended up losing by three.  This team still finds ways to be in every game even though their defense isn’t what it once was, due to the injuries of Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor.
  7. Detroit Lions- The Lions continue to find ways to win.  Matt Stafford is having a huge year and the Lions are right on the cusp of the playoffs with a 6-4 record.
  8. Atlanta Falcons- Don’t look now, but the Falcons looks like they have finally started to find their groove.  With back to back wins against the Cowboys and Seahawks, the Falcons are starting to roll.  The defense still isn’t quite playing up to their dominant level of last season, but the Falcons are a scary round one matchup for someone if they squeak into the playoffs.

Brian Joanou is a staff writer for cover32.com/Rams and covers the Los Angeles Rams. Like and follow on

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